Interview with Jason Ely
To celebrate — slightly belatedly — the twentieth anniversary of Ultima 8, the Ultima Codex is pleased to present a lengthy and informative interview with Jason Ely.
Jason Ely joined the team at Origin Systems during the development of Ultima 8. A lifelong Ultima fan who was no stranger to cracking into and modifying the early games in the series, he bluffed his way into an interview at Origin Systems and left them with his resume and a copy of a game toolkit that (conveniently!) was able to edit Ultima 6. The team at Origin — Mike McShaffry especially — were quite impressed with the tool, and after another interview with the Pagan team, he was hired and put to work in a programming role…although he did get to do some design work as well.
Today, he is the man in charge of Asylumsoft, who are hard at work on Elderlands, a 2D, tiled MMORPG that draws considerable inspiration from the Ultima games. Said game recently completed an open alpha test that was, by all accounts, a smashing success. The game will be on Kickstarter in the near future, to help finance its completion, and it’s really worth taking a look at if Ultima 3, 4, or 5 are particularly beloved to you (and if you like multiplayer games as well).
The good Mr. Ely was gracious enough to answer an avalanche of questions submitted by many members of the Ultima fandom, and his replies thereto even shed some light on the original plans for Ultima 9 and where Origin had intended to take the Crusader series. We here at the Codex — as I am sure is the case with the entirety of the Ultima fandom — are quite grateful to him for taking the time.